Rude guests: How to deal

Carolyn Sperry

Considerate brides go to great lengths to make their guests happy -- with plenty of food that will please everyone, an elegant atmosphere and great music.

So it’s irritating when guests are inconsiderate, but it happens all the time: People leave their phones on so they ring during the ceremony, they complain about the cake flavor, they talk during the toast.

“Don’t allow (them) to ruin your day,” says etiquette expert Rosalinda Randall, who offers advice for dealing with four common varieties of rude wedding guests:

Guests who don’t RSVP

You’ll have to follow up with them, awkward as it may be, because you have to know for sure whether they’re coming. An emailed follow-up isn’t bad, but a phone call or voice mail message puts people on the spot a little more. Be polite; say “I hope you can come; we’d love to have you. Please let us know.” If this guest has any manners, they’ll be embarrassed and get back to you promptly. “Leave your phone number,” says Randall. Don’t give them any excuse to wiggle out of a reply.

Guests who invite themselves

If uninvited guests come -- for example, if a friend decides to bring some of her family members -- it will be a question of who and how many. “If it’s a party of 12, there’s really nothing you can do,” and the interlopers will have to go without a meal. If it’s just one or two unexpected guests, you can probably have servers bring out a couple of extra seats. Try not to get upset or angry if this does happen; in some cultures, Randall says, it’s commonplace for guests to invite others.

Guests who bring unruly kids

So you love kids and wouldn’t think about having an adults-only affair. If the little darlings start poking at the cake or pulling on tablecloths, you could have a go-to person -- like a member of the bridal party, who are there to help you, after all -- discreetly let the parents know that “little Johnny almost got hurt” and needs to be watched. Many brides now opt to have a separate area for kids, with activities set up just for them, to keep them occupied during what is, after all, an hours-long event. Some brides even hire babysitters to watch small guests.

Guests who drink too much

This is another case when a member of the bridal party or a family member can run interference. If a drunk guest is causing embarrassment or becomes belligerent, someone can call them a cab, or escort them back to their room. Never let a guest drive drunk, no matter what the circumstances. If you have a friend or family member with a history of this kind of behavior, you may want to plan ahead. Consider having a conversation with him or her well before the wedding in which you describe your expectations. If that isn’t possible, Randall says, “Enlist the assistance of someone in your bridal party, or someone who has a good rapport” with that person to keep an eye on them.